Norine Dresser
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Book Reviews


Multicultural Manners“Let’s see if we’ve got it all straight: Don’t hug a Vietnamese when greeting him, but peck a Portuguese on both cheeks. Don’t ever wear black to a Chinese wedding (the color suggests death), and use discretion in handing out yellow flowers (to an Armenian they mean you miss her; to an Iranian, they mean you hate her). Don’t clean your plate in a Cambodian’s dining room unless you really want more food, and fill the plate of your Salvadoran guest, who expects that of a good host.
A complicated place, this America. It is filled with people from so many different countries that it is ever harder to get through the day without a gaffe that offends one ethnic group or another. The book offers chapter after chapter of important dos and don’ts.”

New York Times

“Dresser believes everyone can benefit from knowing about immigrants’ customs. For teachers, it can forestall misinterpretation of simple gestures. For example, patting a Hmong (from the Laotian Highlands) child on the head is considered taboo because the head is a sacred part of the body. Even businesses need to be aware of unintentional offenses that can lead to reduced sales.”


“Norine Dresser has done a terrific job telling us—in the nicest, jokiest, kindest way—just how to avoid putting our foot in it.”

Austin American-Statesman

“I’ve found the handiest guidebook around…. Somebody should have thought of this before.”

San Francisco Bay Guardian




Contact Norine about speaking at your next event.


Multicultural Celebrations


“This book provides practical advice for anyone who is looking for gift-giving customs at ethnic and religious weddings; what to wear to funerals; rites-of-passage observances; and birth, death, and healing rituals….Teens will find this paperback guide informative, hilarious, and fascinating.”

School Library Journal

“In our multicultural society, one’s opportunities for cultural enrichment are as frequent and numerous as one’s opportunities for sticking one’s foot in it, socially speaking. If your neighbor or colleague has just given birth and you’re invited to the ensuing party, you may be expected to remove your shoes, bring red roses, contribute to a potluck meal, or ward off evil spirits by making derogatory statements such as ‘the baby smells of poo-poo,’ depending on whether the celebrating family is Cambodian, Ethiopian, Hawaiian, or Hmong.

The premise of this book is to provide practical advice, so you’ll know to wear black to Armenian weddings but never to Thai ones, and to put your gift of money directly into the baby’s hands at a Nigerian naming ceremony….But even if you never encounter these situations directly, it’s still fascinating to learn about them. Accessible, candid, and a pleasure to read, Dresser’s multicultural etiquette guide is as good a way to learn about the world as it is to avoid the gaffes and embarrassment of ignorance.”

Stephanie Gold,

“Truly insightful, consistently fascinating, and often hilarious! Essential for anyone who wants to avoid being potentially embarrassing and even obscene in other cultures.”

David Burke, Author
Street French and Street Spanish



I Felt Like I Was From Another Planet“I love this book! I have used it in my classroom to point out similarities and differences between cultures. I like the writing activities for each story. You can either use the whole set or adapt it to fit your needs. My students have enjoyed hearing about students their age from different cultures. In fact it was a big hit at my ESOL class in Polk County, Florida! Many teachers wanted to get hold of this book! Stock up!!”

Teacher/Reviewer from Tampa Bay, FL,

“The stories are short but address a range of simple to more complex cultural concepts and situations well-suited to classroom use. Suggested activities, including a variety of themes for writing assignments and projects follow each story. It contains 15 units and is suggested for grades 4 - 8, although it could easily be adapted for high school classes.”

Cultural Arts Resources for Students and Teachers


“When she was a child, Chieng Pe showed up at school with deep-red marks on her neck. The marks were the result of “coining,” a Cambodian and Chinese tradition of rubbing a coin dipped in ointment against the body to rid it of fever or respiratory problems.
Her mother had performed the coining when Chieng felt ill. But upon seeing the marks, her teacher suspected child abuse and sent Chieng to the school nurse. Because Chieng had not yet mastered English, she couldn’t explain coining to them.
Her tale is included in Our Own Stories, a selection of 20 compositions by Cal State Los Angeles students about times when culture and language differences have created uncomfortable situations. The book will be used as a reader and workbook for students learning English. They (the stories) illustrate the difficulty of not only understanding a new language, but the trials of getting accustomed to a different way of life.”

Los Angeles Times

“Our Own Stories is a great book. I have used it with my middle school and high school ESL students. The stories are great and relevant to my students (and yours too). Each story also has assigned work that relates to the story and then to real life. I find this aspect especially great about the book. I would recommend this to anyone who works with ESL students from 7th (maybe 5th) grade onwards. Get the book and enjoy the stories."

Teacher/Reviewer from Michigan, USA

“Our Own Stories helps develop reading and conversation skills using issues that are relevant to newcomers to the United States. The fact that this text was constructed from writings of student authors who had themselves experienced cultural barriers makes this an innovative approach in helping others assimilate into our American culture.”

ORTESOL Newsletter

Buy Norine Dresser's
Our Own Stories


“Why are we so obsessed with this evil creature? Why is the vampire such big business? How this media exploitation of the vampire icon has come about is Dresser’s main impetus in her journalistic investigations. Her writing is touched with enough tongue-in-cheek to impart appeal to any reader intrigued by everything you’ve always wanted to know about vampires but were afraid to ask.”

West Coast Review of Books

“It’s an easy-to-read book most people can sink their teeth into.”

Indianapolis News


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